1998: Graduated with honors in Biological Sciences at the University of Padova

1998-99: CNR fellow at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova. Title of the project: “Muscle synapse formation and plasticity: in vivo studies by recombinant DNA technology”.

2003: PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology and Pathology at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova. Title of the thesis: “The role of nerve and activity in the regulation of skeletal muscle growth”.

2003-2006: Post-Doc fellow at the VIMM Institute. Project on: ” Transcription factors and intracellular signals involved in skeletal muscle growth and differentiation”.

2007-2009: FRM Post-Doc fellow at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, France, in the laboratory of Prof. Buckingham. Title of the project: “Gene expression profiling of purified satellite cells from adult skeletal muscle”.

2009: employed as research scientist at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, France, for the project: “Study of the specific role of the Pax3 transcription factor in adult muscle satellite cells, by analysis of a conditional Pax3 mutant muscle”

2009-2012: contract for research activity at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova. Title of the project: “Understanding and combating age-related muscle weakness”

2012-present: CNR scientist at the Neuroscience Institute, in the Mitochondrial Calcium Signaling laboratory of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova.

Since many years, the scientific interest of our lab is focused on the study of mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis inside the cell. At present, our work aims to define the role of mitochondrial Ca2+ in a variety of physiological and pathological conditions to assess its involvement in regulating cell responses and combines the documented knowledge of the lab on the mitochondrial Ca2+ signaling with our previous established expertise on the skeletal muscle physiology. Indeed, our previous works were focused on the characterization of the intracellular signaling pathways regulating skeletal muscle fiber size and fiber type using an in vivo approach. We then explored the gene expression profile of satellite cells during in vivo regeneration and post-natal growth by transcriptome analysis and identified the transcriptional signature of satellite cells activation. More recently, we study the molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways involved in skeletal muscle hypertrophy and differentiation with particular attention to the contribution of mitochondria to skeletal muscle derived stem cells (satellite cells) function in the maintenance and growth of muscle mass.

Our present projects are:
i) to study the involvement of mitochondrial Ca2+ in a cellular model of mitochondrial diseases characterized by respiratory chain complexes mutations;
ii) to explore the role of mitochondrial Ca2+ during vertebrate development in the animal model of zebrafish (Danio rerio);
iii) to define the contribution of mitochondrial Ca2+ to the control of stem cell fate, in particular of muscle-derived stem cell differentiation in vivo;
iv) to identify the origin of the mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of Collagen VI muscular dystrophies, with particular interest to the Ca2+ deregulation and defective organelle clearance.

5 Selected Publications:

Patron, M., Raffaello, A., Granatiero, V., Tosatto, A., Merli, G., De Stefani, D., Wright, L., Pallafacchina, G., Terrin, A., Mammucari, C., et al. (2013). The mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU): molecular identity and physiological roles. J Biol Chem 288, 10750-10758.

Pallafacchina, G., Blaauw, B., and Schiaffino, S. (2013). Role of satellite cells in muscle growth and maintenance of muscle mass. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 23 Suppl 1, S12-18.

Pallafacchina, G., Francois, S., Regnault, B., Czarny, B., Dive, V., Cumano, A., Montarras, D., and Buckingham, M. (2010). An adult tissue-specific stem cell in its niche: a gene profiling analysis of in vivo quiescent and activated muscle satellite cells. Stem Cell Res 4, 77-91.

Calabria, E., Ciciliot, S., Moretti, I., Garcia, M., Picard, A., Dyar, K.A., Pallafacchina, G., Tothova, J., Schiaffino, S., and Murgia, M. (2009). NFAT isoforms control activity-dependent muscle fiber type specification. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106, 13335-13340.

Pallafacchina, G., Calabria, E., Serrano, A.L., Kalhovde, J.M., and Schiaffino, S. (2002). A protein kinase B-dependent and rapamycin-sensitive pathway controls skeletal muscle growth but not fiber type specification. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 99, 9213-9218.

Link to complete list of publications